Driving the news: Data from online flight radar sites showed a private jet departing Tel Aviv on Sunday night and flying directly to Neom. The plane returned to Israel after five hours on the ground.
- The unusual theft coincided with a scheduled meeting between Pompeo and the Saudi Crown Prince, which was posted on the Secretary of State’s calendar.
To note: The Saudis, Israelis and Americans knew that the flight from Tel Aviv to Neom would be detected by plane spotters and likely lead to the reunion being exposed.
- According to Israeli sources, Netanyahu did not notify his coalition partners, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, in advance of the trip. Gantz and Ashkenazi are both political rivals of Netanyahu.
What they say: Israeli sources told me that Mossad Director Yossi Cohen joined Netanyahu on the trip to Saudi Arabia.
- Netanyahu’s office has not commented on this story but has not denied it either.
- After the visit was announced in the Israeli press, Netanyauh’s social media adviser Topaz Luk tweeted: “While Benny Gantz deals with politics, the Prime Minister makes peace. “
In the wings: Israel’s coronavirus cabinet was supposed to meet on Sunday evening. Netanyahu’s office announced on Saturday evening that the meeting had been postponed because more work had to be done in advance.
- It was a cover story. The real reason for the postponement of the cabinet meeting was Netanyahu’s trip to Saudi Arabia, an Israeli source told me.
The big picture: Israel and Saudi Arabia are very concerned about the new Biden administration’s stated goal of reverting to the 2015 deal with Iran.
- Hours before leaving for Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Netanyahu said in a speech: “Thanks to our resolute stance against Iran’s nuclearization and our opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran, many Arab countries have fundamentally changed their approach to Israel. “